Their mounds of dirt, marring the smooth perfection of your green lawn, keep your local pest control company in business. Considered pests, moles push up excess dirt from their tunnels at night while hunting for earthworms and grubs. While true moles (Talpidae) live in North America, Europe and Asia, other molelike mammals live in Africa and Australia. Several of these mole and mole-type species are endangered in their native habitats.
New World Moles
The true moles of family Talpidae are 42 species in 17 genera. Only seven species of the Scalopinae subfamily are native to North America. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists all of the North American species as least concern due to their widespread populations. However, the Townsend's mole (Scapanus townsendii), generally common across a range in the Pacific Northwest, is considered endangered in Canada. The small British Columbia population of approximately 450 individuals is threatened by human activities including pest control and urbanization.
Old World Moles
The Old World moles are also members of the Talpidae family of true moles. The Senkaku mole (Mogera uchidai), also known as the Ryukyu mole, is found only on Uotsuri-jima, a small Japanese island. It is listed as critically endangered on Japan's Red List. Found only in three locations in Vietnam and southern China, small-toothed mole (Euroscaptor parvidens) was listed as critically endangered in 1996 and "data deficient" in 2008 by the IUCN. According to Mammals of the World, other endangered moles include China's inquisitive shrew-mole (Uropsilus investigator) and Chinese shrew-mole (Uropsilus soricipes), Japan's echigo mole (Talpa etigo) and Tokuda's mole (Talpa tokudae), and Northern Iran's Persian mole (Talpa streeti). Most of the Old World mole species are not endangered.
Golden moles are not true moles, although they share true moles' tunneling habits, diet and name. Members of the order Afrosoricida, the golden mole family (Chrysochloridae) includes seven genera and 18 species. Native to southern Africa, several golden mole species are considered endangered by the IUCN. One species, De Winton's golden mole (Cryptochloris wintoni) is listed as critically endangered and, since it hasn't been seen in more than 50 years, possibly extinct. Other endangered golden mole species include Marley's golden mole (Amblysomus marleyi), Gunning's golden mole (Neamblysomus gunningi) and the giant golden mole (Chrysospalax trevelyani).
Australia's two marsupial mole species are in the order Notoryctemorphia. Uniquely adapted for living in Australia's sandy deserts, these moles are seldom seen above ground except when hunting insects or after rainstorms. Both species have marsupial pouches, each raises one or two young at a time. The southern marsupial mole (Notoryctes typhlops) has only buds under the skin and no optic nerve, while the northern marsupial mole (Notoryctes caurinus) also lacks functional eyes. While the IUCN lists the marsupial moles as data deficient, the Australian government considers both species endangered because of their decreasing habitat and an increase in the number of red foxes, which prey on the moles.
- Animal Diversity Web: Talpidae -- Desmans, Moles and Relatives
- BioKIDS: New World Moles and Relatives
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: Moles
- Animal Diversity Web: Scapanus Townsendii -- Townsend's Mole
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Mogera Uchidai
- Mammals of the World: A Checklist; Andrew Duff, et al.
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Euroscaptor Parvidens
- Animal Diversity Web: Chrysochloridae -- Golden Moles
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Cryptochloris Wintoni
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Amblysomus Marleyi
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Neamblysomus Gunningi
- Arkive: Giant Golden Mole (Chrysospalax Trevelyani)
- Animal Diversity Web: Notoryctemorphia -- Marsupial Moles
- Animal Diversity Web: Notoryctes Typhlops -- Southern Marsupial Mole
- Animal Diversity Web: Notoryctes Caurinus -- Northern Marsupial mole
With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.